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Automated processing of plastic parts

NIFCO KTW GmbH specialises in the production of plastic components for interior and exterior use. These parts are often finished with state-of-the-art, high-quality coatings and are used on the production lines of many renowned car manufacturers and their suppliers. The company provides “everything from a single source”, from development to final assembly. NIFCO KTW commissioned toolcraft’s robotics team to construct a robot cell to help it develop a new innovative product for car interiors. The aim of this cell is to process high-quality visible interior car parts, with the robot and tool changer forming a single unit. Two rotary tables are positioned at an angle of 180° and give the cell flexibility. A complete casing makes the cell safe to use and rounds-off its design. Toolcraft was responsible for creating the full customised solution, from the initial idea to production and assembly.

Used technologies:

Customer:

NIFCO KTW GmbH
www.nifcoktw.com

The starting point:
Sophisticated parts for the automotive industry

The objective was for the plastic parts, which are produced using 3K injection moulding and reinforced with around 20% fibreglass, to be processed using a robot. The parts are between 200 mm and 1,000 mm in size and the robot must achieve a precision of +/- 0.1 mm. Further requirements taken into account when constructing the robot cell included the integration of tool management and a tool changer as well as two rotary tables capable of processing the parts more quickly. The entire cell had to be designed as a closed system. It is able to accommodate eight different components (RFID) and boasts an integrated chip extraction feature. Toolcraft also took care of the offline programming.

The challenge:
Process reliability and precision

Since the components are visible after installation and gap dimensions need to be accurate to a tenth of a millimetre, the entire process must be reliable and precise. The combination of tool management, measuring systems and component recognition is essential for enabling the requirements to be met consistently throughout the processing procedure. Ensuring a compact yet user-friendly design presented an additional challenge when constructing the cell. Moreover, toolcraft made sure that freeform surfaces can be programmed to make them suitable for processing by the robot. It is also possible to make adjustments and corrections in the event of component warpage. Toolcraft’s longstanding experience in manufacturing machinery proved invaluable during this project. The team worked with software company unicam to program the robot.

The approach:
Precise down to the smallest detail

  • Creation of a project team and performance of a feasibility analysis
  • Test phase on toolcraft’s own robot cells
  • Full construction and assembly in house
  • Use of a Stäubli RX 160
  • Set up at the client’s premises

the results:
Complete tailored solution from A to Z

Including the time required to assemble the system at the client’s premises, the solution was up and running within 16 weeks. The robot cell fulfils all the necessary requirements. Toolcraft’s expertise in robotics and its close collaboration with the client meant that the bespoke solution left no stone unturned.

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Automated processing of plastic parts

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Andreas Bauer

Business Unit Manager Robotics

Daniel Distler

Business Unit Manager Robotics